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Quotes by George Orwell

'Sheer egoism... Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen - in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.'

The Four Motives for Writing

'When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.'

‘If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.'

'Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such as ting if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist or (sic) understand. For all one knows that demon is the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. Any yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one currently struggles to effface one's personality.'


George Orwell, quoted by Robert McCrum, The Observer

'The existence of good bad literature - the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously - is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration.'

'The novel is likely, if the best literary brains cannot be induced to return to it, to survive in some perfunctory, despised and hopelessly degenerate form, like modern tombstones, or the Punch and Judy show.’

in 1936

'All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery.  Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.'

in England, Your England

'The books one reads in childhood, and perhaps most of all the bad and good bad books, create in one's mind a sort of false map of the world, a series of fabulous countries into which one can retreat at odd moments throughout the rest of life, and which in some cases can even survive a visit to the real countries which they are supposed to represent.'

'There is no test of literary merit except survival, which is itself an index to majority opinion.'

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